(copyright James Sturm)

With his graphic-novel trilogy James Sturm’s America, comic-book artist James Sturm gained a devoted following for his skillful storytelling, sharp eye, and deft hand. The books examined 18th- and 19th-century America through the lens of religious revivalists, desperate gold miners, and a scrappy team of Jewish (and presumed to be Jewish) baseball players. Now, in Market Day, Sturm imagines Jewish life in industrializing Europe, following 24 hours in the life of Mendelman, a highly skilled rug maker who confronts economic changes that might destroy his livelihood—and with it, the pleasure he takes in seeing the world through his craft. Influenced by Art Spiegelman and R. Crumb, among others, Sturm is not only a cartoonist but also the director and co-founder of the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont. He spoke to Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry about his introduction to shtetl life, his grim (or, he argues, not so grim) choice of subject matter, and his Center’s spiritual founder, Inky Solomon.